A rethink of the way in which professionals organise scientific communication is needed, a leading scientific publisher said this week.
Hans Roosendaal, group deputy director at scientific publishers Elsevier Science in Holland, told an international meeting that with increased electronic communication, gradually over the next decade, scientific journals would move from paper to electronic distribution as scientists demanded more real time communication, greater effectiveness and more efficiency.
With this, the timing of research and research communication and dissemination would move closer together, he said.
"The time difference between research and its communication will reduce," he told last week's Fifth International Conference on Science and Technology Indicators. "I think we will move into a situation where we would like to exchange information during, or as close as possible after, research."
He said this might mean the notion of a discrete article becoming blurred, with people able to add to and update their own and others' papers on the net. As such an article may become dynamic.
He suggested that articles, rather than being written in their current form, might be made modular in nature with discrete self-contained sections which can be swopped in and out of text as relevant, and even moved to new papers.
Research at the University of Amsterdam by Joost Kircz is looking at this.
But he added: "At some point researchers will have to be held accountable for what they have produced. There will have to be distinguishable individual articles and modules which can be cited."